Rheumatoid Arthritis : An Autoimmune Disease

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Disease Condition
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune, systemic disease that occurs in approximately 1% of the population. There are environmental, hormonal, and genetic factors that contribute to rheumatoid arthritis, with genetic factors having an increased effect. Rheumatoid arthritis is three times more prevalent in women than in men, and also tends to progress with age. Pregnant women with rheumatoid arthritis have decreased signs and symptoms, but at postpartum the signs and symptoms will resume with marked increase due to hormonal influence (Nelson, 2011). There are no known exact causes for rheumatoid arthritis, but autoimmunity does play a role in the progression and level of chronicity. Uncontrollable risk factors are related to family history and the state of one’s immune system. Controllable risk factors are considered environmental and include, but not limited to, smoking, alcohol, excessive intake of coffee, low vitamin D levels, oral contraceptives, and low socioeconomic status (Nelson, 2011).
Since rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic disease, it can also affect other organs and tissues, but it primarily attacks the joints in a symmetrical fashion. Rheumatoid arthritis develops from an abnormal immune response caused by exposure to an antigen, in a patient that is genetically susceptible. Autoantibodies develop and attack the patient’s cartilage and synovial tissues once the antigen exposure has occurred (Nelson, 2011). One of the most common
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